Jan 18th, 2010

AL Central Draft Grades 05-08

By Jeff Buchanan

Baseball America recently released draft grades for every MLB team over the last few years including handy GPA’s. I’m going to take a look at their grades for each American League Central team to see how the White Sox shape up next to their divisional rivals.

Team 2008 2007 2006 2005 GPA
Chicago White Sox A C D C+ 2.38
Cleveland Indians B D C C 2.00
Detroit Tigers B A C+ B+ 3.25
Kansas City Royals B B D C+ 2.38
Minnesota Twins B B C A 3.00

The Tigers and Twins are clearly ahead of the Sox, Royals and Indians by Baseball America’s reckoning. Some of the more notable White Sox draftees during this period include Gordon Beckham, Dan Hudson, Chris Getz, Clayton Richard and Oakland A’s prospect Chris Carter. The Indians, who failed to sign a draft eligible sophomore by the name of Tim Lincecum in 2005, have had little success to date during this period, with Jensen Lewis being one of their more productive draftees. The Tigers hit big in 2007 with Rick Porcello, who could anchor their staff for years to come, and Casey Crosby, who is amongst the best LHP prospects in baseball. Two of their ‘08 draftees, catcher Alex Avila and reliever Ryan Perry have already logged significant Major League time. The Royals’ most notable pick is ‘05 draftee Alex Gordon, who despite not quite taking off as hoped, has been worth the $4m investment. The Twins’ selection of Matt Garza at 25th overall in 2005 has proven to be one of the better picks in what was a stacked 2005 draft, the Twins also landed Kevin Slowey that year.
Is it fair to judge success merely by the players each team has selected? Possibly, but we know that draft position plays a large part in determining which players a team can get from the top of the draft. The White Sox “earned” their first top 10 pick in 17 years and they respond with an A grade draft in 2008. So the next thing I want to do is list which picks each team had in the first rounds and supplemental first rounds.

Team 2008 2007 2006 2005 Average
Chicago White Sox 8 25 29 15 19.25
Cleveland Indians 29 13 39 14, 33 23.75
Detroit Tigers 21 27, 60 6 10 16
Kansas City Royals 3, 36 2 1 2 2
Minnesota Twins 14, 27, 31 28 20 25, 39 21.75

Average relates to each team’s first pick only, compensatory picks were not included in the average. The White Sox had the third highest average pick to match their joint third highest GPA but the thing that jumps out is the Royals’ average pick of 2nd overall. When you’re drafting that high every year you have to do better than the Royals have done. Their 2.38 GPA ties for 21st amongst all teams.
It’s tough to say which team has drafted the best from just looking at GPA’s and average draft position. In recent years money has started to play a bigger factor in the draft and the Tigers are one of the teams who have been very willing to spend above and beyond in order to get their guy. So the next thing I want to look at is how much each team has spent in the first round, and how much each team has spent overall. The total amount spent is on the left, then amount in parentheses is how much was spent on first round and supplemental first round picks.

Team 2008 2007 2006 2005 Average
Chicago White Sox $4.4m ($2.6m) $2.6m ($1.2m) $2.5m ($1.1m) $2.7m ($1.6m) $3m ($1.6m)
Cleveland Indians $6.6m ($1.1m) $2.9m ($1.6m) $6.1m ($0.9m) $4.9m ($2.7m) $5.1m ($1.6m)
Detroit Tigers $3.5m ($1.5m) $7.6m ($4.1m) $5.7m ($3.6m) $3.8m ($2.7m) $5.2m ($3m)
Kansas City Royals $10.8m ($7m) $6.4m ($4m) $6.4m ($3.5m) $6m ($4m) $7.4m ($4.6m)
Minnesota Twins $7m ($4.2m) $1.9m ($.75m) $3.7m ($1.5m) $5.2m ($2.3m) $4.5m ($2.2m)

So here we can see that the Sox have spent significantly less than every other team in the division. I guess this means the scouting department should be given extra slack for some of the more disappointing drafts, particularly of ‘05 and ‘06. For a team of this size and in this market, however, I find the budgetary decision to be a very strange one. You can’t simply point at not having high draft picks as a reason for not spending. There are plenty of opportunities to pick high profile, high potential prospects later on in the draft but the Sox have been completely disinterested. Kenny Williams must be aware of the importance of developing from within and given the organization’s resistance to signing top tier free agents, drafting well is essential. Even if you build through trades as Kenny likes to do, you obviously need to have the prospects in the first place in order to trade them.
As for the other teams, it’s no surprise to see the Royals heading the list of money spent. When you pick as high as they do every year you’re having to spend $3.5m+ just to sign your top pick. I was expecting the Tigers to be the big over slot spenders, but actually it was the Indians who spent the most money from rounds 2 and onwards with an average of roughly $3.5m, the Royals were the second highest spenders in this area at $2.8m. Again the White Sox were the most stringent team, spending an average of $1.4m per year in rounds 2 and onwards.
Finally I want to neutralize the draft budgets to see which team got the best bang for their bucks. To find a new, budget neutral, GPA, I’m simply going to divide each teams original GPA by their average spent and then multiply that by a new budget that will be the same for each team. The average spent by all five teams was $5.04m, so this seems like a suitable total to use for the new draft budget.

Team Original Budget Original GPA New Budget New GPA
Chicago White Sox $3m 2.38 $5.04m 4.00
Cleveland Indians $5.1m 2.00 $5.04m 1.98
Detroit Tigers $5.2m 3.25 $5.04m 3.15
Kansas City Royals $7.4m 2.38 $5.04m 1.62
Minnesota Twins $4.5m 3.00 $5.04m 3.36

Well that looks good for the White Sox. They haven’t spent a lot of money, but they have spent well working from the BA rankings. Now these of course are not definitive rankings, there’s still a lot that can change with the draft grades, particularly the ‘07 and ‘08 grades, and even then there’s a lot of subjectivity in them. I thought that all the AL Central teams had good drafts in 2008 and I would not be surprised to see some of those B’s turn into A’s, for example. The continued development of Chris Getz, Clayton Richard and Chris Carter should bump up the Sox grade for 2005 as another example.
The new GPA does make you wonder what the White Sox system might look like right now if they had invested even an average amount of money into the draft. Unfortunately I don’t see the draft budget increasing any time soon, not unless we see a change of management, anyway. Kenny Williams seems to have a great ability of wrangling money out of Jerry Reinsdorf, and if he had really wanted to spend $5m+ on the draft, I’m sure he could have gotten it.
So while the Sox may have had several poor drafts during this four year period, it does not mean that their scouting department is necessarily doing a bad job. Each team has a different draft budget, and therefore it is unfair to judge them all on the same scale. You can’t expect the White Sox to draft as well as teams who are consistently spending $5m, $6m, $7m or more per year on the draft because it just isn’t realistic.

Tagged as: , , , , ,

One Response

  1. [...] (Credit where credit is due, I pretty much stole this post idea from FutureSox.com) [...]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.